About Us

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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Monday, 29 February 2016

The time of leaving is nearly upon us.

Gosh where has the time gone? Seems like only yesterday we arrived back at Langley Mill and here we are, with 9 days to go before we set off, preparing FS for the exodus out of the basin. It's that time of year when the cruising season starts, a little earlier this year what with Easter falling in late March. Usually the Pie and Pea event held at Easter at the Lock Cottage, Sandiacre, heralds the start of us all departing and with the festivity normally in April, it makes a nice change to start the season a lot earlier. With a little under 2 weeks to go before the Pie and Pea, yesterday the cottage was being made ready for the event. Over the winter some of the walls in the upper rooms showed signs of damp, no doubt because of condensation and the fact the cottage is well over 200years old having been built at the same time as the Erewash canal in 1795. So earlier in the week Michael stripped the old plaster from the worse bits, re-plastered and on the Sunday the ECP&DA work party team started the big clean-up and re-painting. Ian helped replace the strip lights which refused to start, and I helped toward some of the cleaning. With too many bodies all vying for a job to do it was decided that Ian and I leave them to it and return to FS, and with the weather turning out to be 'quite nice', Ian got out the bitumen whilst I left him too it and went walkabout.

Dennis removing the loose chip paper

Michael Dave and Dennis

Heather on plate cleaning duties


Michael removing the loose paint.

Got back to find FS with a lovely blacked bottom (well the bit above the waterline anyway) and one more job ticked off the list before our departure.

And on my walk

Gold crest

Buzzard

I was unsure as to why these Long Tailed Tits kept flying to the window

I think they were after the flies caught in the spider web on the inside of the building.

Gave up after trying for over 10 minutes. Looks a bit dejected at missing out on a meal.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Just a slight trip hazard!

I was inches of falling flat on my face! Walking along the towpath with the sun so low that looking ahead was almost impossible, I only just saw this in time.

This is the photo looking back at it.
 No one on board the dredger and I was a little unsure as how I should proceed. Should I stay with the boat and warn other walkers? or just walk off. Then from the side of the bridge came this chap. Not C&RT but a contractor.


In his hand was a broken broom handle. After I mentioned how idiotic tying a rope across the towpath was, he apologised and said he had no means of securing the boat. It was being taken to Potters lock to aid in the replacement of the piling ...well it was until he found the digger on the front wouldn't fit under the bridge! So he went on a hunt for a stake of some sort and came back with the broken handle. He then pushed it into the bank and wrapped the rope round that. Goodness knows what he will do now. Take the digger apart bit by bit?, 'cause that's the only way it will go under Anchor bridge!

As the day was sunny and clear Ian touched up the rubbing strake on both sides of FS. That's the beauty of being in moored in the old dismantled Nottingham lock by the swing bridge, we just push her across to the other side. Gave me an opportunity to clean the windows and dig the moss out from inside the galley window track. The hull blacking also needs touching up (will wait for another good day) as last year we didn't do our usual dry docking. That will have to wait now until September.

More birdie photos from the walk this morning. Mainly of the lovely little long tailed Tit.






Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A grand morning out.

Very glad we opened the air vent on the stove last night to keep the chill out, we piled on the coal and basked in the heat. Woke to -4 with the canal frozen and ice having formed on the inside window frames but we didn't care as we were warm and toasty. FS creaked and groaned when Ian got up, objecting to being released from the ice and when he flung open the curtains, the day revealed a wonderful sunrise with a promise of a glorious day ahead. Arrangements had been made with friends of old, Lynda and Tony, (both with us when we got well and truly stuck in the mud at Hallem Field lock) to meet at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire. Dressing warm 'cause that wind was icy, we met at Newton Linford entrance and was amazed on how many children were about. Of course.... it was half term, not something we had even thought about until suddenly it clicked. The roads were significantly quieter without the school mums in their cars out on the school run. Anyway we joined the throngs at the gates and wow, talk about spectacular views to greet us and a very pleasant 2 hours of walking up hill and down dale followed. Admiring the ruins of Bradgate House, once home to Lady Jane Grey, England's 9 day Queen who ruled in 1553, and also admiring the folly Old John and the Yeomanry war memorial.  the walk took us along the top of a ridge and I got my first views of the Fallow Deer and an impressive albino stag. To finish the morning walk we had lunch in a restaurant The Grey Lady, a very posh place...to posh for the likes of us being in our trekking outfits and we did get a few frowning looks from the diners, but hey ho, our money is as good as the next. All in all it was a brilliant day. Beats sitting twiddling thumbs in the boat and getting stir crazy any day.

So now for the photos.

Ian, Lynda and Tony

Bradgate House

Old John

Old John with Fallow deer (one albino) in the foreground

Yeomanry War Memorial


Over 500 year old Oak

Looking down at the river Lin











 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Typical.....solve one problem and another shows itself! and a smashing trip to Cumbria.

Hmmmm.... so we are very pleased with the way our cowl is performing, no more smoke billowing from the stove into the boat but now we have another problem, lots of tar! Our wood is well seasoned, at least 2 years old so one would have thought it relatively tar free. Appears not as it is accumulating on the cowl and as the wind swings the sail bit around, it drips over the roof, sides and cratch cover, so Ian is racking his brains as to how he can overcome this. Maybe an idea from another boater perhaps??? Anyway at the moment we wash down on a daily basis but what a complete pain especially as it's blooming freezing outside!

Talking of freezing, we headed off to Cumbria over the weekend for a visit with Chris and Sue. Chris was Ian's best man back in 1973 and over the years had lost touch, only to meet up again a few years ago. So when the invite came for us all to meet up we jumped at the chance of spending some quality time with them. Not knowing what to expect, only being told to bring warm gear, we were amazed at how lovely their place was. An old Smithy and piggery that they had converted many years ago and now was a property to be proud of. With 3 acres set in a hamlet of about 7 property's, one pub about 5 minute walk away and a small stone road bridge with the river running underneath, the setting was idyllic. Sooooo quiet and hardly any light pollution. The cottage was lovely and warm but the outside temperatures..... brrrrr.. cold enough for it to snow and form ice especially on the hills.

Over the three day visit we were taken to the Wildlife Wetlands at Caerlaverock, the Roman Ruins at Vindolanda and lastly Hadrian's Wall, all of which photos will be posted at the bottom of this post. Be warned, there are quite a few!!!

Leaving yesterday afternoon, it took us nearly 4.5 hours to get home. Had a blizzard to go through which made the conditions a bit hairy (almost a white out) and we did have a 20 minute stop to admire the Angel of the North.



Getting back to FS we got the diesel heater going, then the stove was lit and finally the kettle put to boil. Took nearly an hour before I would take my coat off, such was the temperature inside FS and getting into a freezing bed last night....well say no more!

So now for the photos I warned you about. First the wetlands, (more will be posted on my wildlife blog)


Whooper, Bewick and Mute swans

Feeding time although the birds are completely wild and come and go as they please.

Wigeon

Young whooper in the wrong place for the adults liking.


Curlews




Barnacle Geese



Vindolanda Roman ruins




Ian, Chris and Sue

Ian and Sue




Then the snow arrived

Thar's snow on them Thar hills


                                                            And  Hadrian's Wall

The wall runs along the top and into the distance.



Chris posing on top.



Some of the Northumberland views


Walking to another section of the Wall



And there it is again




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